COMMENTARY | The Seattle Mariners are unlikely to be well-represented July 16 at the MLB All-Star game. A poor record, lack of an explosive offense, and only a couple of players that have league-wide name recognition mean only a select few will be making the trip to New York next month.
Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma are having great seasons, and should be no-doubt picks for the American League team. However, a less heralded Mariner -- relief pitcher Oliver Perez -- deserves to be an All-Star.
Here are five reasons why:
His dominating stats
A quick look at Perez's astounding peripheral stats will show why he has earned a spot on the All-Star team. In 27.2 innings pitched on the season, Perez has given up just three earned runs, and has held opponents scoreless since May 18. He has only given up 21 hits and 14 walks while striking out 38 opposing batters. His 0.98 ERA is third lowest among pitchers who have appeared in at least 20 games. Any way you look at it, those are stats that belong to an All-Star.
He is electrifying to watch
Apart from the little rule that it decides home-field advantage in the World Series, the All-Star game is supposed to be about the fans. Perez is the type of exciting player who should be in the game. A high-90s fastball and biting slider make him very entertaining to watch on the mound. Plus, people love to watch strikeout pitchers, and Perez's 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings is one of the best rates in the American League.
He has an intriguing comeback story
Adding to Perez's appeal is the way he has been able to turn his career around since coming to Seattle. Perez was a highly touted prospect in the early-2000s, and showed his potential in 2004 with a 2.98 ERA and 239 strikeouts as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Following that, things started to go downhill as Perez's walk rate skyrocketed during a series of forgettable seasons, mostly with the New York Mets. He was released in 2010 and made an 18-month journey through the minor leagues before rediscovering himself with the Mariners. An invitation to the All-Star game would complete a great comeback.
He's a left-hander who can get everyone out
As a lefty coming out of the bullpen, Perez can provide a lot of versatility for American League manager Jim Leyland. Perez has actually shown a reverse platoon split this year, as his numbers against right-handed batters are slightly better than his numbers against left-handers. Opposing righties are only hitting .151 against him all year. As such, Leyland can call upon Perez in a number of different situations, whether it be needing an entire inning or a key strikeout in a high-leverage situation.
He might be the Mariners' closer soon
Closers get all the glory in the bullpen, and saves are an appealing stat. While Perez started the season way down the Mariners' closing depth chart, he could find himself in the full-time role soon. Regular closer Tom Wilhelmsen has imploded in the last month, while natural successor Stephen Pryor is on the 60-day disabled list. Perez picked up his first career save June 14, and should get a few more opportunities in the coming weeks. He certainly won't be expected to close out the All-Star game, but the ability to is just another reason to add him to the roster.
Nathaniel Reeves is a lifelong Seattle sports follower who is studying journalism at the University of Washington. He currently covers sports for The UW Daily.
- Sports & Recreation
- Oliver Perez
- Seattle Mariners